Don’t look now, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won three games in a row. The San Diego Chargers hope to present a major roadblock in the Bucs’ path to the playoffs in Week 13.
It was one thing to pound the Chicago Bears 36-10, but when a team goes into Arrowhead Stadium and wins and then comes back home to defeat the Seattle Seahawks, you must take notice. The Chargers can’t afford to take this team lightly.
With that said, how do the Chargers pick up this win? With two quarterbacks who like to throw the ball all over the yard, we could easily see a shootout in San Diego this Sunday, but what is the key matchup in this game? Let’s take a closer look.
Passing: San Diego No. 5, Tampa Bay No. 15
It’s a real testament to how good Philip Rivers is when he can play without Keenan Allen for the entire season and Travis Benjamin for multiple games and still average 271 yards per game through the air.
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Much will be said about the combination of Jameis Winston and Mike Evans, but don’t sleep on Tampa Bay tight end Cameron Brate.
Rushing: Tampa Bay No. 16, San Diego No. 20
The Bucs have been forced to use several backs this year, but Doug Martin is back in the lineup and that makes their offense much more dangerous. For the Chargers, Melvin Gordon isn’t racking up a ton of yards every week but he’s still a threat to find the end zone.
Pass Defense: Tampa Bay No. 17, San Diego No. 24
Casey Hayward will likely draw the challenge of defending Evans on many of the snaps in this game. Hayward is playing at a Pro-Bowl level, so this will easily be one of the key matchups in this game.
Run Defense: San Diego No. 6, Tampa Bay No. 22
The Chargers have been one of the league’s best defenses against the run all year, averaging less than 90 yards per game. Without Brandon Mebane in the lineup, that could change, but the Chargers held Lamar Miller to 57 yards on 19 carries last week without him.
The Bucs do give up yards on the ground, but the team still features a defensive line that can make plays. Defensive lineman Gerald McCoy can be a game-wrecker, and he no doubt has plans to do that on Sunday. The Chargers will have to be wary of him not only in the running game, but in protecting Rivers as well.
San Diego offensive line vs. Gerald McCoy and Noah Spence.
The Chargers definitely need to establish the run in this game, but Rivers is likely going to drop back to throw a minimum of 30 times in this game. Together, McCoy and Spence have combined for 11.5 sacks on the season and they seem to be getting better with each passing week.
San Diego will have to hold up in protection as these two players could make life very difficult for Rivers and company on Sunday.
What do you think the key matchup will be in this game? Let us know down below in the comment section.